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Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph Letterbooks, 1894-1899

By Finding aid prepared by Trevor Sandgathe.

Collection Overview

Title: Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph Letterbooks, 1894-1899

ID: MSS Dolph

Primary Creator: Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph Law Offices.

Extent: 0.5 cubic feet. More info below.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph Letterbooks document the professional activities of attorneys Joseph Dolph, Richard Nixon, and Chester Dolph between 1894 and 1899. Included is administrative correspondence and legal counsel regarding land disputes, immigration hearings, divorce proceedings, debt remittance, and other civil and criminal lawsuits. Litigants include the Oregon Gold Mining Company, the Last Chance Mining Company, the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company, the American Loan and Trust Company, and others.

Scope and Content Notes

The collection is comprised of four 500-page letterbooks containing outgoing correspondence from the Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph law offices between 1894 and 1899. Predominate among the cases handled by the firm were Oregon land disputes relating to property use and upkeep, payment of rent and mortgages, foreclosure proceedings, and sales. Litigants included the Oregon Gold Mining Company, the Last Chance Mining Company, the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company, the American Loan & Trust Company, and the Candelaria Fruit Company, among others. The firm also engaged in Indian depredation suits, provided defense in numerous Chinese immigration cases, represented several inventors in patent claims, and engaged in debt collection and remittance efforts, estate disbursements, divorce proceedings, and other civil and criminal suits. Also included is a small amount of correspondence relating to the political career of senior partner Joseph N. Dolph (U.S. Senator, 1883-1895) and subsequent death (1897).

Each letterbook is arranged in chronological order and accompanied by an index organized by recipient.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Joseph N. Dolph was born in New York in 1835. In 1862, he joined the Oregon Escort, an outfit responsible for protecting settlers from Native Americans as they travelled to Oregon. Later, he settled in Portland where he established a law firm. Between 1865 and 1868, he served as Oregon’s U.S. District Attorney and, in 1866, was elected to the Oregon State Senate where he represented Multnomah County. In 1882, Dolph was elected to the United States Senate, a position he held until 1895.

When he failed to gain reelection to the U.S. Senate, Dolph opened a law office in Portland, Oregon with his son, Chester Dolph, and son-in-law Richard Nixon. Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph specialized in land disputes and represented several mining concerns and railroad companies, though the firm also engaged in miscellaneous other civil and criminal suits. Dolph died in March 1897 from complications resulting from a diabetes-induced amputation. Chester Dolph and Richard Nixon continued to operate the firm following Joseph Dolph’s death.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 1 box

Statement on Access: The collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph letterbooks were donated to Oregon Agricultural College in 1906. The books were transferred to the OSU University Archives in the 1960s and now reside in the OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center.

Related Materials: The OSU Special Collections and Archives Research Center holds Frederick Miller Roth's A Biographical Sketch of Joseph Norton Dolph, the Reports of J. N. Dolph for the 50th Congress and the Speeches of J. N. Dolph in the U.S. Senate 1884 to 1888. Additional records pertaining to land use, natural resources, legislation, politics, and 19th century living in Oregon can be found throughout the SCARC holdings, including in the History of the Pacfic Northwest Rare Book Collection, the William G. Robbins Papers (MSS Robbins), and the Gerald W. Williams Collections (MSS WilliamsG). The Oregon Multicultural Archives also includes materials relating to Native Americans and Chinese Americans in Oregon. Other 19th century letterbooks can be found in the President's Office Records of B. L. Arnold (RG 013 - SG 01) and the Oregon Prune Association Letter Press Book (MSS Prune). The University of Oregon also holds a letter authored by Joseph Dolph in May 1884.

Preferred Citation: The Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph Letterbooks (MSS Dolph), Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.


Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph Law Offices.
Dolph, Chester
Dolph, Joseph N. (Joseph Norton) (1835-1897)
Nixon, Richard

People, Places, and Topics

Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph Law Offices.
Emigration and immigration law--United States.
Land use--Law and legislation--United States.
Law--United States.
Law firms--Oregon--Portland.
Mining law--United States.
Natural Resources
Oregon and California Railroad Company
Oregon Multicultural Archives
Oregon Railway and Navigation Company
Railroad law--United States.

Forms of Material

Letter books.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.